This the sixth and final post introducing the Lynchburg Parks and Recreation Department’s, “Please Do Hug the Trees” campaign. If you haven’t already done so, make sure to read Part I of The Tree Hugging Hippies Were Right After All before continuing with Part IV.
Conservation Focus – Why Now?
In September of 2015, the City’s Communications Department presented the results of the Citizen Satisfaction Survey; a community-wide survey polling the Lynchburg community about their perception of various city services. Though the Lynchburg Parks and Recreation Department fared quite well in most areas of operations, we received a low score in preservation and conservation. In the field of parks and recreation, we have three pillars that anchor our profession; conservation, health /wellness and social equity. Local, state and national parks services are charged with making significant contributions and upholding these pillars. Local parks and recreation, in particular, are uniquely positioned to provide critical front line services and resources to bolster these three pillars and impact collective community health.
Though we know about our many efforts to protect Lynchburg’s 900 acres of open space and natural areas, parkland acquisition, park and trail stewardship and our educational connections like the Nature Zone, Ivy Creek Nature Park and the 153 nature programs that our naturalist team implemented last year, as well as our camps and field trips that connect children to nature and outdoor adventures, this low score indicated that our community was not aware of our efforts. Given that conservation is a pillar of parks and recreation, this low grade was unacceptable.
Time to Tell Our Story
The programs and places of Lynchburg Parks and Recreation combat some of our City and nation’s toughest challenges like obesity, poverty, loneliness and environmental sustainability. We offer solutions to what ails us. Lynchburg’s natural areas, trails and parks are gateways to healthy, prosperous and connected communities, and the “Please Do Hug the Trees” campaign is our solution to address the issue of conservation and environmental sustainability.
We are telling our story through education via direct mailed program guide and invitations to join in conservation efforts and nature programming. Engaging the Lynchburg community in personal household conservation practices and encouraging participation in the seven components of the “Please Do Hug the Trees” (PDHTT) campaign will facilitate the collective conservation and individual wellness endeavor. The PDHTT campaign is the brain child of our Director prompted by the low conservation survey score and timed perfectly with and internal call to action mentioned in an earlier post. Our PDHTT Campaign has 7 components, they are:
- Million Pollinator Challenge
- Parks for Monarchs
- Tree Planting Challenge
- Jr. Naturalist
- Community Gardens
- Citizen Scientist
- Nature Equity
Each part of this campaign will be rolled out at appropriate times during the coming year.
Outlined in previous blog parts, a summary of the many scientific studies that prove nature is good for our health and given our community’s elevated obesity and poverty rate, connecting folks to all seven components of PDHTT looks to be a timely remedy. It may seem like a no brainer that nature is healthy and people should spend time outdoors but it doesn’t translate; just look at Lynchburg’s obesity rate, the global environmental trashing by corporations and the limited access to safe nutritional foods, clean air and water free of toxins. Even with new technologies, people are more disconnected than ever, evidenced by the loneliness epidemic of both young adults and the very old.
How did we get so disconnected from nature and our organic roots?
How Parks and Recreation is Going to Save the World
All parks and recreation departments have at the root of their mission to” improve the quality of life..” Besides our comparable mission, in Lynchburg, our managerial agenda is to improve the human condition and infuse the Lynchburg collective with good vibrations. If you read the previous parts to this blog post, you know that we are referring to a vibrational connection to nature via Schumann Resonance. It means other things to us as well like infusing all programs that we propose to the public with positive intentions and childlike enthusiasm.
What other organization or institution can provide education and green spaces at a meta level that connects our community to nature and our organic roots via trained staff and infrastructure that promote walking trails, mountain biking, camping, hiking, canoeing, fishing, kayaking, picnicking and nature contemplation?
We know that earthing in nature is a powerful healing tool via electrons neutralizing free radicals in the body. If we care about community health it is imperative that parks and recreation promotes this earthing technique, whether it is through camping (sleeping on the ground) to resynchronize cortisol secretions and increase immunity or simply walking barefoot in the park or hugging a tree. We also owe it to our children and grandchildren to restore the importance of play so their brains develop appropriate executive functioning. (http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/07/05/481582529/how-to-raise-brilliant-children-according-to-science)
Parks and Recreation can save the world by encouraging improved individual health through activity in nature, preserving natural areas, proving green places and relevant education, protecting “play” as well as lifting the veil and revealing the culprits behind environmental destruction.
Why Not Us, Why Not Lynchburg?
Because conservation is one of the three pillars of parks and recreation, and in considering the current lack of reverence for our environment, we feel it is the role of parks and recreation departments’ across the country to incite a grassroots effort to preserve nature and speak for the trees. The unique Blackwater Creek Natural Area, the James River and incredible parks and trails have always made Lynchburg a haven for passive nature lovers as well as active recreators and outdoorsmen- now we are encouraging the Lynchburg collective to become official tree huggers – modern day Bishnois and hippies. This begins a long tradition with the Lynchburg Parks and Recreation Department as a tree hugging counterculture rebelling against the assault on our environment; community catalyzers with an eye on restoring the human receiver’s ability to decode within the electromagnetic spectrum and develop delta and theta wave connections.
Now Let’s Break the Guinness Book of World Records!
October 8, 2016, we will attempt to break the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest tree hug. We only need 1500 folks to join us at Peaks View Park to break the current world record. The past Movie in the Park had 1100 attendees, so we know we know we can handle the crowd and parking. There are many stipulations laid out by the Guinness Book organization and we will cover those details later.
The Lynchburg Parks and Recreation Department believes that attempting the record title will not only bring awareness to our doing so, but also to our “Please Do Hug the Trees” campaign and associated programming. Additionally, this event will pull a large part of the Lynchburg community together for a good cause – to celebrate and appreciate and protect the natural world around us.
The record title is a literal interpretation of our “Please Do Hug the Trees” efforts, and will allow us to share our love for nature (and for the trees) with the community in a fun and engaging way.
We got this!